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Finding a healthy work-life balance is harder than ever. With technology and telecommuting increasing employee expectations, it can seem impossible to find a balance between work and the ‘you time’ that you need. One way to help yourself find a work-life balance that works for you is to engage in mindfulness practices.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness refers to the practice of being aware of your presence in each moment, as well as being aware of your needs and desires. Many people think mindfulness refers to meditation; while meditation can certainly aid in mindfulness, many people’s ‘mindful’ practices are simply hobbies they enjoy in their free time or quiet moments spent sitting outdoors.
How Can Mindfulness Help Create a Work-Life Balance?
Practicing mindfulness can help you keep a healthy work-life balance in many ways. Mindfulness helps you be better aware of stress, and managing stress is crucial to balancing your work and personal life. If you realize that you’re feeling stressed and unproductive, you’ll know that it’s time to take a short walk or give yourself a mental break of another kind.
Mindful people also tend to be more organized and focused, and thus more productive. This is largely because mindfulness allows you to establish a schedule that works best for you. Many people use mindfulness to remain ‘in the moment’ and completely focused during work hours, then turn that part of their brain off during breaks or after work to give their minds a rest. Mental exhaustion, after all, is a common reason for decreases in productivity. Being mindful also helps you prioritize between what tasks are urgent and what you can take your time on. Prioritizing is the key. Balance is difficult without it. Some say balance is not possible. I think the key is to choose what areas you need to focus on in this stage of your life. What you do now, may not be what you do a year from now. Choose what is most important and do that.
To help you establish the best possible work-life balance, here are some mindfulness practices you might choose to engage in:
Unplug – If you’re like many working women, having your phone on means you’re expected to be constantly accessible. One strategy to keep yourself mindful of your stress and help you relax is to take some ‘unplugged’ time each day where you turn off your phone and ignore your computer. Constant phone notifications and emails can feel overwhelming, and by unplugging for a bit, you can enjoy a relaxing activity to help yourself recharge in a way that you can’t with your devices in front of you. Decide if you will answer work related calls and messages after you leave work. If you are able to leave work at work, then do so. Set a limit on when you will answer so you can be fully attentive to your family in those off hours.
Exercise – Exercise should be up there with eating regular meals and drinking enough water on your list of personal needs. Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers and is proven to make people more productive overall, not least because it helps you remain mindful and focused on the moment.
Make a Personalized Schedule – One final tip to maintain a good work-life balance is to create a schedule that best suits your needs. Be mindful of your stress levels on a day-to-day basis and find activities that help you reduce stress, then incorporate these into your schedule along with hours spent working. Find a few minutes for fresh air and a couple of breaks away from your work each day.
What one item will you try first?